The Election Commission (EC) on Friday told the Madras High Court that it cannot make public the steps being taken by it with regard to the 2017 Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar bypoll bribery case First Information Report (FIR), which got quashed by a single judge of the court without its knowledge.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and M. Nirmal Kumar was told by Niranjan Rajagopalan, standing counsel for EC, that his instructions were that for the present, the commission did not want to disclose details in public though it had submitted all requisite information for the exclusive perusal of the court.
The submissions were made when senior counsel P. Wilson, representing N. Maruthu Ganesh, the DMK candidate during the 2017 bypoll, insisted that the EC, Income Tax department as well as the police should be ordered to make public all documents related to the issue on hand.
“They want to keep everything top secret. In a democracy, there should be some transparency. We want to know what is happening. They cannot withhold all important documents and ask me to argue this case. They are not revealing crucial information,” senior counsel argued after filing a memo insisting upon disclosure of all documents.
The EC had rescinded the bypoll in April 2017 after the I-T sleuths raided several places and seized crucial documents from the residence of the Health Minister. The documents were related to ₹89.65 crore having been reportedly given to various Ministers, including Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, for distribution among voters of R.K. Nagar.
Then, AIADMK had fielded T.T.V. Dhinakaran as its candidate in the constituency. Though an FIR was registered by the Abhiramapuram police here at the instance of the EC with regard to seizure of money, it got quashed by a single judge of the High Court in March 2018 without the commission’s knowledge.
Hence, Mr. Ganesh had approached the court insisting upon a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the entire issue. During the course of hearing of the case on Friday, Justice Sathyanarayanan pointed out that former AIADMK Minister V. Senthil Balaji, who was also allegedly involved in the distribution of money, had now swiched to the DMK.
Later, he granted time till December 18 for the EC to file its reply to the memo preferred by Mr. Ganesh.